Skip to main content

Full text of "Joan of Arc: a narrative poem"

See other formats

'■^.^r::rt ■•■■■■■ 



- 1 

A .ivi . •• • 


-•'•44i.i.M'aa^.i.ilBM''-''- ■• 









C7 J'4 

Copyright, 1883, 



The transparency imparted to words by clear 
type on fine paper aids in the detection of that 
class of defects that are corrigible. So many such 
were thus discovered in the following poem (printed 
for private circulation in 1860), that in now offer- 
ing it to the public the Author deems it proper to 
state that the pages as here revised are the only 
ones that are amenable to criticism. 

Newport, R. I., December, 1866. 




Book I. DOMREMY 7 

Book II. Orleans 29 

Book in. Rheims 61 

Book IV. Rouen . . .... 83 





Man's earthly being darksome rolls 
In atmospheres of latent light, 

Whence on his toil, through gospel souls, 
Outstreams the supervisive might. 

Before his footstep, straining higher. 
Illumined pillars alway shine, — 

The flaming of great souls on fire. — 
Pillars half human half divine. 


The Eternal Spirit breathes upon 
Its filial race in all degrees : 

But warms Egyptian Grecian sun 
One Moses and one Socrates. 

The like of these reverberate 
Upon the finer senses speech 

High whispered in their ears, elate 
To be within such holy reach; 

Which seldom are the ears by din 

Of power besieged, grown deaf thereby 

Against the notes which then begin 
When silent is the grosser cry. 

Thence mostly bide the great aloof 

From inspiration's breath, which stirs 
Beneath the lowly toilsome roof 
i>Of miners and of carpenters. 



Blind was the time with hates and greeds, 
With crimeful wars and ruffian raids, 

Decrepit old the manful needs 

Whence grew and throve the first crusades. 

The Pope sold heaven for carnal cash; 

The Kings had earned no right of trust ; 
The People was a thing to lash ; 

And learning lent itself to lust. 

The ear of France was faint with sounds 
Of wail and woe, her will amort 

With lavish losses and the wounds 
Of Crecy and of Agincourt. 


So shrunk her arm it nothing dared, 
Her cities foul with mutiny, 

The very soil will soon be shared 
'Twixt England and false Burgundy. 


Already kindled is the flame 
To purge this peril clean away, 

And glow around a woman's name 
A marvel and a joy for aye. 

In lone Domremy, on the marches 
Of France, of Lorraine, and of Bar, 

Her cottage cowered near the arches 
Of hoary oak-woods, glooming far 


In space and time ; for gaping Thought 
Roamed their dusk centuries, in search 

Of nests for winged traditions, wrought 
Into the brain ere yet the church 

Was consecrated, whose slow shade 
Hallowed her window in its fall; 

Then, touching calm the forest, made 
Evanish elves and fairies all. 

Here, 'twixt the past and future rockt. 

The meditative Maiden leaned 
Upon her peasant childhood, stockt 

With radiant reaching thoughts unweaned, — 

Great thoughts, too great for utterance. 
Till, in the glow of visionary act 

Full nursed to ripeness, hopeful France 
Shall bless them with her rescue backt, — 


Thoughts born of goodness, which doth breed 
The broadest and the boldest bred 

In heaven or earth, the livehest seed 
In warm Creation's womby bed. 


Great Joan at first was only good: 
She gave herself, she gave her tears 

To friend and friendless, and did brood, 
So young, on France's deepening fears. 

That wild birds fed them from her hands, 

Was token of her innocence, 
Needed, ere Heaven its choice commands 

Will lay upon the inner sense. 


Only the great can do great things: 
The greatness was ere they were done; 

And long before Fame's belfry rings 
For victory, 'twas inly won. 

High chosen are the messengers 

Through whom religious lightnings flash, 

To illumine, when too blindly stirs, 
Man's will in storms that madly crash. 

Sway oft is lent to men of guilt, 

But guilt heaps no creative gains; 
The fast foundations aye are built 

By Alfreds and by Charlemagnes. 


More subtile than belief can gauge 
The lines that link our life to His ; 

But stronger than the whirlwind's rage 
The finest of these subtilties. 

In thicker throng than brain can breed 

'Twixt heaven and earth the unbodied ply, 

And, viewless, soundless to the toifreed, 
They flash and hymn to the inner eye. 

The advent of large thought the mind 

Enwrapeth oft in terror, like 
First flames from deep volcano's rind, 

That rashly on the darkness strike. 



When first foreshowing ravisheth 

The vision of elected seers, 
They trembhng hope, as when through death 

Man onward glides to higher spheres. 

The shivering change is like the break 

Of flowers through frost in spring, when veers 

Upward the sun his warmth to make. 
And they are freed in flood of tears. 

The tender, pious Maid of Arc, 

Who nursed the sick, whose thought was prayer, 
Saw lights .that made the noon seem dark. 

So sun-surpassing was the glare. 

And voices heard she, heavenly speech, 
That came from angels 'rayed in white, 

Tliat came her fateftd life to teach 
In flashes of prophetic light. 


At first she fell upon the ground, 
Bewildered, bathed in timorous tears ; 

But faith the coils of fear unwound. 
And she grew greater with the years. 

Grew greater as her brain absorbed 
And throve upon the holy fire. 

That to one end her being orbed, 
Sublimed her life to one desire. 

And must she forth to war and roam, 
So weeping loth to conflict she ! 

She loved her comrades, loved her home. 
Her mother, father, tenderly. 

But newly fledged was bolder love. 
To country, right, and to her King : 

Unpractised maid, unventuring dove. 

She pitched her flight with eagle's wing. 



She fled to neighboring Vaucouleur, 

To loyal Captain Baudriconr. 
At first lie chid, then mocked at her, 

So mad she seemed, so peasant-poor. 

" I am commissioned by our Lord 

France and the King and crown to save ; 

That I am coming send him word." 
Sir Baudricour looked scornful grave. 

This told, the King, — as one who waits 

Upon the scaffold for reprieve, 
And grasps at nothings in his straits, — 

Commanded him to give her leave. 


At Vaucouleur her saintly mien, 

And words, and beauty, and the shower 

Of light about her forehead sheen. 

Had made the people know her power. 

They flocked to front her eyes, and play 
With prodigal hope returned; and blades 

Of knights outgleamed, to light her way 
Through passes dim and scowling glades. 

Good steed and armor they bestowed, 
A sword and spurs and trooper's gear; 

And she, who horse had ne'er bestrode. 
Sat Hke a Captain Cavalier. 

The sky was glad and bells did ring, 
And old and young bowed low to her, 

As forth to meet and lift the King 
She sallied from full Vaucouleur. 


The gentle, trustful Maid of Arc 

Rode fearless forward joyously : 
Her comrades' bosoms soon grew dark 

With dreads, and thoughts of sorcery. 

" Be of good heart and cheer," she said ; 

" Our guides are friends in Paradise." 
.And they were boldened by the Maid, 

Their bad thoughts chastened by her eyes. 

Nor English nor Burgundian swords, 
Nor fraudful Frankish ambuscades 

Could compass her : she cleared the fords 
And fens and brakes and scowling glades. 



Twice fifty torches shook their hfe 
In arrowy showerings on the Hall, — 

Like thoughts of genius, glistening rife. 
That glow creative where they fall. 

These fell on gold and gem and steel, 
That flushed beneath the welcome dart, 

And made three hundred courtiers feel 
The pomp whereof each one was part. 

The King he thought to dazzle so 
The timid, rustic Maid of Arc ; 

But that she brought to which all glow 
Of earth-lights is a vanished spark, — 


Inward illumination, fired 

By selfless longings, in a breast 
So heavenly strung, in it are quired 

The harmonies of courses blest. 

Prizing the pomp as 't should be prized, 

Erect, unblenching, angel-led. 
She walked right to the King disguised, 

And bent her knee and bowed her head. 

" My King, the King thy King wills me 
His instrument to have thee crowned 

At holy Rheims, that France be free 
Of foemen who profane her ground." 

Her instinct's eye that knew the King, 
Her voice that tuned the listener's ear, 

A spell that did her face enring. 

Balked the glib courtiers' couched jeer. 


The unolnted King drew her aside, 
And lowly speaking to the Maid, 

His brow upheaved with wonder wide 
At what the whispering Joan said. 

A sceptred secret, pale with doubt. 
Had harrowed long the royal breast : 

The unworded torment she spake out 
And put the rankling doubt at rest. 

And issuing forth, with ribald breath 
A soldier sought her ear to wound : - 

" Blaspheming, and so near to death ! " 
A moment after, he was drowned. 



Our boldest thinking strives to hit 
Beyond a finite circle's range ; 

For law comes out of th' infinite, 
And is to deepest insight strange. 

And so far we have now been taught, 
Slow climbing on from law to law, — 

There's no new wonder but 'tis wrought 
By rule that has nor breach nor flaw. 

There cannot be of law a breach. 
And what so seems is but a hnk 

In chains that hang beyond the reach 
Of present reason's furthest brink. 


These seeming miracles, — where leaps 
In startling flash the eternal fire, 

That thrills the bravest pulse and creeps 
Through faintest fibre, of desire, — 

Had never warmed the credent crowd : 
'Tis only hfe that life can melt: 

Herself, to holiest living vowed. 

Made others throb with what she felt. 

She wearied not of doing good, 

And through her simple words and creed 
Ran ruddy streams of Wisdom's blood. 

Whose fountain-heart was daily deed. 



Like misty mirror wiped by rays 
Which then it gladly echoes round, 

Are bosoms cleansed by goodness' blaze, 
Eeblazing it with health's rebound. 

Befouled so long men's hearts had been. 
That on them fell those holy streaks, 

As the first morning's wakening sheen 
On rescued night-doomed mountain-peaks. 

But here the highest were not first : 
The bruised many, earthly bare. 

Were tenderer to a hght that burst 

From heaven, — Faith fathered by Despair. 


And women's flashing instincts leapt 
Into the truth of Joan's look : 

With her they prayed and warmly wept, 
And sweet heart-incense on her shook. 

The King convoked judicial priests 
And doctors on the maiden youth, — 

One of those supersubtle feasts 
Where sophistries benibble truth. 

She foiled her greedy questioners, 
And beacon-bishops took her side. 

Pronouncing that the right was hers. 
And she a heaven-enabled guide. 

The people's faith, true Orleans' need. 
The Council's voice, the wide alarms. 

So wrought, the wavering King decreed 
Her Captain o'er his men of anns. 



On that new morning rose in France, 
Flusht with a high expectancy, 

An April sun, his swayful glance 
Darting hot Hfe from sea to sea. 

More festive shone the blue than wont, 
The birds prophetic joy did pipe. 

And waters leapt in stillest font. 

And blossoms burst that were not ripe. 


The sunbeams on embattled steel 

Clashed like the stroke of myriad swords, 

And the glad clarion's muster-peal 
Rang yauntful with sonorous words, 

As in pure argent armor dight. 
On martial courser glossy dark, 

With sainted sword and banner white. 
Came forth the warrior Maid of Arc. 

Men's blood was wildly moved, to see, 
With squire and heralds battle-'rayed. 

In chieftain's plumed panoply. 

Ride forth the pious, prayerful Maid. 

Erect she sat and vivid calm. 

As one long schooled to leadership; 

And so she had been, through the balm 
Breathed on her from unearthly lip. 


She rode enguarded by her worth, 

By ministries of subtile hands 
Invisible, and by the new birth 

Of love and courage in the bands, — - 

The shrivelled roots in desert breasts, 
(By war laid waste and misery,) 

Rewarmed, as fledglings on their nests, 
By pulse of feminine sympathy. 


The crowd heaved towards her on the tide 
Of hope and faith and joy reflown. 

And Captains hearkened at her side; 
Yet she amid them rode alone. 



For none could see what slie could see, — 
Dear France's fetters wrestled loose; 

And none could feel and know as she 
The means awaiting her high use. 

But with her rode the powers that rule 
In heaven and earth, and baffle hell, — 

The judgment that events doth school, 
The feeling that the self doth quell. 

No princely promptings wily threw 
Upon the ear of inward sense 

Insidious baits, that suasive drew 
Her thoughts to gilded recompense. 

Within that vestal brain, whence shot 
A mystic light the crowd that spelled, 

Could sprout no seed of self, to spot 
The brilliancies her bosom held. 



From royal Chinon rode she fortli 

Towards leaguered Orleans, where winged fame 
Had with mere prologues of her worth 

Fanned fainting hope to sturdy flame. 

The haughtiest Chieftains brooked her power, — 
Uplifted scorn chastised by awe, — 

And feudal masters learnt to cower 
Before a shepherd-maiden's law. 

And still they gathered far and near, 
Men who could sup on raid and wrack, 

Saintrailles, Gaucourt, Coaraze, la Hire, 
And the rough Lords of Armagnac. 


And more than Fame's hoarse cry can call ; 

None spirit-gifted, and not one 
Had gained the mastering summit tall 

Only by blest obedience won. 

They scaled it never. Even the King 
Chief over chief could scarce advance ; 

And hence in part this conquest's ring, 
Harmful to England as to France. 

But she bore sway above the King's, 
Of genius hers the right divine. 

Whose lightning-loaded sceptre swings 
High over Kingship's earthen line. 



A SEA surged round her foamed with joy, 
A vocal, vaulting, soul-lit sea 

Of tremulous hearts, each face a buoy- 
Swayed by the swell of ecstasy. 

They felt deliverance in her look; 

Those grateful hearts, they read her right, 
And long despair and anguish shook 

Themselves away in tears of light. 

Majestic meek she rode along, 

With glad Dunois and tamed la Hire; 

Behind them, twice one hundred strong, 
A line of horsemen armed with spear. 


Thouglit flamed liis glory 'bout her head, 
And from her lids Love poured his gifts, 

As Silence locked the Hps that sped 
The generous promise that uplifts. 

With awed delight the people gazed 
In eyes where they saw heaven glassed, 

And mothers gaunt their children raised 
To catch a blessing as she passed. 

And when with speech her visage burned, 
It seemed descended sounds did break; 

And wild submitted faces turned 
As warm religious words she spake. 

She alighted at the house of prayer, — 
To keep unslacked the cord that bound 

Her life to God's, the foremost care 
Her thought on daily duty wound. 


When came the hour to interrupt 

And brace the day with tables heaped, 

She passed the dainties by and supped 
On bread in watered wine ensteeped. 

And then to sleep she laid her down 
In Orleans, where high guard she kept ; 

For knowing her within their town 
Fearless the rescued burghers slept. 


But Fear and Hate were hatching then 
In mirksome deeps their ghastly brood, 

That brave unvanquished stalwart men 
Be caged by new fright-haunted mood. 


For that same hour on English dreams 

' Of Joan fierce lurid spectres cast, 
As on still night-cloud fiery seams 

Forewrite the shattering thunder-blast. 

And Talbot, Suffolk, Glansdale, — chiefs 
With whom success had grown to fate, — 

Cursed the base craven blind beliefs. 
That mixed so much of fear with hate. 

Their soldiers' creed was sulhed faith, — 
Spring-currents drooping in a ditch: 

Their pulse was seized as by a wraith, — 
The inspired girl, they damned her witch. 

For men are minions of behef, 

Be it high or low; and being low. 

They crucify beside a thief 

The holiest that the earth can know. 


In bodeful awe this churlish creed 
Enfolded Joan : she came to sweep 

From Gallic soil their English breed, 
All who escape sepulchral sleep. 


The shadows cast on the orient gate 
Of Orleans from beleaguering towers, 

No longer fell with- gloomy weight : 

The Mom that sent them blazed his showers 

On one who rose, the first of May 
Of fourteen hundred twenty-nine, 

With robust dawn, herself a day 

That dawned, release on France to shine. 


The eyes of Orleans, flush with strength 
Of pious, tempering martial, glee. 

Drew her through all the city's length, — 
A second day of jubilee. 

Then mounting on the rampart tall, — 
So near the foremost Enghsh fort 

That tongue could bridge from wall to wall, ■ 
She hailed them with a queenly port. 

" Lords Suffolk, Talbot, valiant chiefs. 
Ye war against the right, and fill 

England as France with daily griefs : 
Depart ye hence — 'tis Heaven's will." 

Thus venting words of wisdom's truth, 
Her voice's cadence music-fraught. 

The sinuous grace and glistening youth 
Of her mailed plumed figure wrought 


On the azure of the approving sky, 

She looked alighted from above, 
One missioned by the unearthly high, 

A herald less of war than love. 

But Glansdale, unacclaimed by trumpet. 
With accents steeped in rancor's pitch. 

Answered and called her cow-herd, strumpet. 
Crying, " A vaunt ! accursed witch ! " 

The prophet-Maiden quick replied: 

" Spite of yourselves hence will you flee, 

All who this week shall not have died. 
But, liar, this thou wilt not see." 



Her task she would at once begin; 

But others deemed, and Dunois chief, 
'T were best, the ranks being yet so thin, 

To wait from Blois the sure reHef. 

They chafed her with delays; for she 
Had the true leader's gift, to know 

The worth of calm celerity, 

That springs to clutch the deeds which grow 

Just o'er the magic hne that parts 
The ftiture from the now, where bells 

Ring only for respondent hearts, 

And drown with life Time's ftmeral knells. 


She would not have old Time command her, 
She the sure mistress of the young, 

Whom she bade bide her will and squander 
On her the tribute to him flung. 

At last, their coming far espied. 

She rode to meet them, passing near 

To the English bastions, whence was tried 
No sally on her escort's rear. 

Again she marched with succors close 
Under their bulwarks' heavy brows; 

Again, unstruck his wonted blows, 
The lion could not him arouse. 

*Twas no familiar fear that held 

From the brave shock those warriors grim ; 

But manful breasts were partly spelled, 
And partly Suffolk reined them in. 


Like famished tiger who in sleep 

Nears the fat herd and whets his jaws, 

But dream-imprisoned cannot leap, 

And maddened bleeds from clenched claws, 

With armless anger inly bled 

Those haughty chiefs, to see the prey 

Go scathless by, mysterious led 
By a girl in broad defiant day. 


O'erspent with toil, in the afternoon 
To rest she couched her weary cheek; 

But not unguarded slept, for soon 
She started with a tender shriek, — 


" My arms ! My horse ! Blood flows, French blood — 

I see it dripping on the ground." 
Snatching her mail and helmet-hood 

And flag, and mounting with a bound, 

Away to the Burgundian gate 

She sped, unguided, undismayed. 
Less haste and she had come too late: 

The French were flying disarrayed. 

She stayed their flight, she rallied them : 
They clung reheartened to her side. 

Beneath that banner stanch to stem 
And refluent make the stormy tide. 

Those Englishmen, they battled well, — 
When did they noi? — and Talbot stout 

Sought from his western fort to quell 
Part of the foe ; but they swarmed out 


So valorous eager, he withdrew 
Tristfiil within his towered hold. 

Into the French their leader blew 
Her soul, and they were angel-bold. 

Hot and more hot the war was waged, 
The English from their forted coop 

Resallying, with despair enraged. 

Till came the last ensanguined swoop. 

Led by the Maid, whose banner white 
Flamed o'er the field a quickening Sun, 

And following which with frantic fight 
The fort St. Loup by assault was won. 

Swift now were spent the fondled hoards 
Of hate, revenge, and all that wreaks 

Itself in death, the victors' swords 

Choking with blood the vanquished shrieks. 


Not one was spared, save those who fled 
Befrocked as priests, whom she concealed, 

The victor-chief, whose great heart bled, 
So many dying unaneled. 


As, maddened by the trampling rain, 
Mud-freighted mountain-torrents pour 

Into a lake, its lustre stain 

And blot heaven's image from its floor, 

On Joan's unstained peUucid soul 

That deathftil rage so darkening swept, 

Her eyes grew sick at slaughter's scroll 
And through their triumph anguish wept. 


She smote not with her sword, and spared 
Blood-currents when she could, the hests 

Divine fulfilling meek, nor dared 
To fathom them with reason's tests. 

The ascending law of sacrifice 

To compass she was yet too crude, 

Nor could forefeel the boundless price 
Herself must pay for France's good. 

Life springs from death and thrives on death : 

We grow upon a charnel-heap. 
Where rottenness breeds sweetest breath, 

And light wakes livelier from a sleep. 

ORLEAJ^^S. 61 

They could not for they would not see 
(So wilful is self-dazzled sight) 

That hers was that first victory, 
From her the new resistless might. 

Those jealous chieftains, woman-shent. 
Would shun her wishes, pass her by; 

She read their thought, and to them sent,- 
" Follow your counsels — mine will I." 

And well for Orleans that she did; 

For they beyond the river led 
A corps (from her the movement hid) 

Where panic-struck their squadrons fled; 


When she, quick crossing with la Hire, 
Took the fierce forward foe in flank, 

Whereat the French, uncoiling fear. 
Drove the besiegers from the bank 

Behind their screen of palisades 

And parapets, o'er which with flood 

Rage-crested rolling, thirsty blades 

They slaked once more in English blood. 

They forced her quit the field, where they 
Would lie companions of the night; 

For she had fasted all the ^ay, — 
The holiest of the long year's flight. 




Before she laid lier down to rest, — 
"Come early, much will be to do: 

I shall be wounded in the breast," — 
To her chaplain thus she gave the clue 

Of the great morrow, at whose dawn 
She hurried with a martial crowd 

To the eastern portal, where was drawn 
Afront the bolted gate, by proud 

Gaucourt, a line to bar the way. 

" With or without thy will I pass." 
The Chieftain's own would not obey. 

But hand in hand with her hot mass 


Efforced the gate, whence all in boats 
Sped glibly to the southern shore, 

To assail the fortress, fenced by moats, 
A strong redoubt and cannon's roar. 

So stoutly did the English fend, 

The French lost heart. A ladder snatched, 
Into the fosse she leapt to ascend 

The rampart wall, when, sure despatched, 

An arrow found her, and she fell. 

Out sprang the foe to clutch the prize ; 
But she on a swift-rallying swell 

Was borne away amid their cries. 

When trickling warm she saw the blood. 
The woman from her eyelids gushed, — 

The warrior quelled by maidenhood, — 
But for a moment — then back rushed 


The hero to her heart. She drew 

That arrow from a shoulder fair 
With untrained hand, (it had pierced through,) 

Then rose and, self discharged, all care 

She lavished on her comrades worn. 

So faint with battle and defeat, 
That Dunois, seeing them o'erbome, 

Already sounded a retreat. 

She bade him pause, his fear dismiss, — 
" Let them an hour rest and feed : 

Our foemen's fall is doomed, and this 
The day that Orleans will be freed." 



Awaiting summer's liberal noons, 
Close by a vineyard trustful lay ; 

Here, deeply craving instant boons. 
The constant Maiden knelt to pray. 

That silent solitary prayer 

Was clean and clear as bluest sky 

That climbs Mont Blanc's white topmost stair, 
And warm as breath that heaved him high. 

So luminous her visage grew 

From inward light, that when she rose 
And leapt into her seat, she drew 

Men's eyes as when a wonder glows. 


Now quailed the foe, who thought her dead, 
And the joyed French upsent a shout. 

On whose wild gale the wings were spread 
That drove them on the stormed redoubt. 

Thence Glansdale fleeing on a plank 
The bridge was shot beneath, and he 

Steel-cased, with other Captains, sank, — 
And the death-bubbles all could see. 

Like spring's young tide Atlantic-rolled, 
Her warriors poured themselves upon 

Their battlements with surge so bold. 
That in a trice the work was done. — 

That night in Orleans sleep was shook 

Out of all eyes by joy, and clang 
Of boastful bells, that would not brook 

A transient cheer, but pauseless sang. 


From soul to lip, from tongue to tongue 
With awe was thrown her simple name, 

And there by raptured hearts was sung 
The prelude to a deathless fame. 


Those midnight revels sank in ears 
Whereon the jocund pealings fell 

Dismal as the last toll that sears 
The sentenced culprit in his cell. 

They sat around the council-board, 
Talbot and Suffolk and their mates, 

Scowling, that they must sheathe the sword 
Or draw upon enangered fates. — 


Night still perplexed Day's forward brink, 
When vengeful eyes were on the strain 

West towards the single uncrushed link 
Of their besiegers' fortress-chain. 

Ere sun could smite their dinted steel 
The silent English bands were seen 

To issue from the fort and wheel 
Into close line with sullen mien. 

This told to Joan, — who wounded lay 
Unarmed, — donning a light loose mail, 

She galloped with the broadening day. 
And as the French were about to assail 

The foe, her voice cleft through them, — "Hold! 

Bestain not with a bootless blood 
The Sabbath day. This front so bold 

Means no attack : 'tis but the flood 


" Of brave men's will ere ebb their feet." 
Lo ! while she spake they turned, and forth, 

Id order rankt, to slow drum-beat, 
Grimly they marched into the North. 

She led her comrades to their rear, 
And on the plain whence Talbot trod, 

In his unwilling waning ear 

A loud thanksgiving sang to God. 



Never outleapt more moving blast 

From Fame's far trump than when it threw 
On Europe's deep resounding vast 

The Maiden's exploits, peerless new. 

'Twas no brief earth-blast, for it bore 

Great messages of high relief, 
And swift from men's slow vision tore 

The sensuous film of unbelief. 


Men's thoughts were godless — they had lost 
Hold on the stable lines that link 

Earth to superior spheres, and, tost 
Unsteadied in the sensual sink, 

Deemed it their home, man's saving good, 
His conscience, given in pawn to priests, 

Who cunning lent thereon the food 
That nurtures men to passive beasts. 

As a fresh-bursted bloom of stars, — 
Out-dazzling so men's common eyes 

It would their thoughts through earthliest bars 
Drag up to Him who sows the skies, — 

The Maiden shone siderial strange, 

And such great wonders 'bout her grew, 

Of sense she balked the grovelling range 
And heavenward mortal bosoms drew. 


Old Merlin's whispered prescient dream 
Now swelled to sounding prophecy, — 

" A Virgin shall the realm redeem, " — 
And the good Maid of Arc is she. 


From rescued Orleans to the King 
She hastened with her victories, 

In fearless forethought conquering 
For France becrowned regalities. 

The King was slow to think, and had 
No vision for the future's blank. 

And when she there the good and bad 
Unraveled, he bewildered shrank. 


She saw, — and she at first alone, — 

By consecration would be flung 
A sacred splendor on the throne, 

And thence a wide submission wrung. 

His Captains each had partial aims, 

His counsellors so laggard dim. 
Her plans to them were misty names 

Illegible on space's rim. 

Time's wrinkled children seldom dare 

Unwrinkled paths, tied torpid fast 
To staid routine ; and silvered hair 

Is the white livery of the past. 

Nor can the younger even keep pace 

With girded genius, who outruns 
His own thought's light, through whispering space 

A life-beam flashing with the suns. 


**Use me while yet you may, great King," 
The Maiden said : " My parting date 

Comes round within a short year's ring : " — 
A first forefeeling of her fate. 

The sluggard King was moved by this, 
By the strong under-swell still more 

The Maid was heaving from the abyss 
Of a great People's aching core. 

Which, quickened by a life like hers. 
Felt her deep puissance through its own, 

And, instinct-guided, never errs 
As to its needs, divinely sown. 

How soul doth answer soul, and might 
Breed might, and one warm bosom tune 

Millions to higher beat, new sight 

Kindling old eyes in Truth's broad noon I 


Faith in themselves so stout was bom 
Of faith in her, in a few days 

Men grew Hke pulse of slow-breathed morn 
Now panting up meridian blaze. 


The impalpable is ever best, 

His subtlest is man's liveliest food, — 

The viewless air that feeds his breast. 
The unconscious life that heats his blood. 

The clamor of the common voice. 
The grumbling winds of discontent. 

Seemed of King Charles to sway the choice ; 
But with the grosser vigors blent 

RHEIMS. ^ 69 

Supreme the omnipresent breatli 

That whispers to th' unwilhng will, 

With ceaseless circling baffles death, 
And ever wafts us higher still. 

And so, all other counsels quashed, 

The King and Court must yield to her, 

Their creeping crook'd devices dashed 
By Orleans' fleet deliverer. 

And now began that laurelled march 
To regal Rheims from distant Selles, 

The heavens a glad triumphal arch 
O'er feats as bright as story tells. 

Like seas before a tropic gale 

Onward the martial torrent roared, 

Through ford and fortress, shout and wail, — 
Fresh fighters in it daily poured. 


Onward still onward towards the goal 
Her joyous swiftness never flags : 

As fleshly members lifts the soul, 

With her the sensual King she drags. 

Onward with victor speed she swept. 
Great Talbot's self her prisoner ta'en : 

Bravely the foe their life-blood wept, 
Her path besprinkled by the slain. 

Suffolk held Jargeau in her way, — 
She carried it by assault; then Fort 

Beaugency stormed ; and with Patay 
She quitted them for Agincourt. 



They halt before the gates of Troyes, — 
To the Enghsh and Burgundians hege,— 

Where envy sucked its impish joys 
From hope of an arresting siege. 

A week's delay the French unmanned, — 
Enhungered guests without a feast, — 

While pompous Councils feebly planned. 
Ruled by a forward faith-less priest. 

Ere they resolved retreat, — which all 

Save one, advised, — they summoned her; 

While she, who had doomed the city's fall. 
Nor longer would its fall defer. 


Was tapping at their Council-door. 

When asked — "Can six days win these towers?'* 
She said — " There needs not half of four : 

To-morrow noon they shall be ours." 

Mounting, she waved her pennon white, 

And as it shimmered on the wind 
Brave thousands mustered with delight, 

Ready to do her utmost mind. 

This swarm boards, tables, fagots heaped 

Into the fosse ; whereat, appalled. 
The foe, — before the French had reaped 

Their escalade, — a parley called; 

Then oped their gates ; whence marching swift, 

No more assailing or assailed, 
Thank-radiant eyes she soon could lift. 

As of dear Rheims the spires she hailed. 



Time's friendliest fervors seldom bore 
To martial France so freighted hour, 

As when that temple, holy hoar. 
Breathed its old benison of power 

Upon the Monarch, girt with lay 
And spiritual peers, and dignities. 

And colored pomp and solemn play 
Of sensuous-sacred liturgies. 

And as the gaudy regal rites 

Unrolled themselves to saintly song, 

Nor king nor priest nor gilded sights 
Held the hushed gazes of the throng ; 


But she, in splendent maidenhood, 

Whose presence all their bosoms thrilled, 

Who foremost near the altar stood, 
And the wide church with wonder filled ; 

Her great heart beating in accord 
With music of the spheral dance. 

Her thanks and praises to the Lord, 
Her wishes with the King and France. 

When ceased the pageant's ritual flow. 

And blazed the King with forehead crowned, 

On humbleness she shd so low 

She clasped his knees upon the ground. 

Then gushed in stream of sudden tears 

Her deep benignant being, rent 
By exultation, wherewith fears 

Unconsciously with triumph blent. 


In such high rapturous unison 

The crowd's rough heart beat with the Maid, 
Quick as the dew with risen sun 

Glistened the church in tears arrayed. 

She spake — " My King, the work decreed 

For me to do is done. O ! send 
Me to my parents poor: they need 

My help, and thither would I wend." 


'T WAS not to be, that filial flight, 
Her only home the sinless blue : 

Her simple name has grown a might. 
And France's King doth claim his due. 


Domremy lay beyond a flood 


Whose waters she herself had loosed, 

Their bellowing billows, black with blood, 

Henceforth on earth her only roost. 

No more a mother's ripened love 

Shall feed her with its antumn balm ; 

Nor her warm teemful bosom prove 
Young mother's first ecstatic calm. 

No youth with her great look shall gild 
The home his fancy's wealth has given, 

While her coy boldness helps him build 
One future for the two to live in. 

Nor toil-earned joys nor sweetened care. 
Nor the week's crown of Sunday ease, 

None shall be hers, nor the loved stare 
Of upturned faces at her knees. 


Her woman's walk shall be a tramp 

Along the soldier's gairish path, 
Till she exchange the brutal camp 

For the dim dungeon's tutored wrath, — 

A dungeon round whose wall shall hiss 

Exultant nations' rabid breath, 
While kings and bishops crosiers kiss, 

With thanks all bloodied by a death. 


The crowning made allegiance cheap : 
Soissons, Laon, Chateau-Thierry 

Gave in, each opening gates and keep. 
As marched the King towards Picardy, 


Far shone above the serried hne 

That pious banner dipt in light, 
A moving fortress, being a sign 

That Heaven marched with them for the ris^ht. 


But she who bore it, she was changed ; 

Her mood was sad, and oft she sighed. 
Her angel-friends, were they estranged? 

Not so, or breathless she had died. 

But shadows, from the future blown, 
Upon her silence coldly crept. 

And, with dark nearness heavier grown, 
Her tenderest life-strings grimly swept. 

As Indian in his boat, who feels 

At night the current's quickened pace, 

To whom a flash 'mid thunderpeals 
Lays bare his helpless deathward race, 


Light beaming on her inner ken 

Through earth's o'ercharged incumbent gloom, 
She saw, close yawning at Compiegne, 

Her dread inevitable doom. 


But ere it came to this, moons waned 

On discord, feud, and jealousy. 
While she, though thwarted, still had gained 

Bold battles with her martial eye. 

And now once more the year was warmed 
By nuptial breath of florid May, 

When, where Burgundians thickest swarmed, 
To sieged Compiegne she fought her way. 


One morning in tlie holy house, — 
Her vision by communion purged, — 

With motions such as martyr rouse, 

Thus spake she calm, by prescience urged : 

" Good friends, pray for me — I am sold, 
Betrayed : my captors now are nigh. 

To drag me through a dungeon-hold 
To death, by English hands to die." 

With dread and wonder gaping wide 

Were yet the ears her voice had touched, 

When dreadless she rode forth to bide 

The perils those strange words had vouched. 

She led a sortie from the town. 
And, shielding the pursued retreat, 

Ere she had cleared the gateway, down 
Portcullis dropt behind her feet, 


Leaving her helpless 'mid the foes, 

Whose circling spearmen quickly forced 

Her cease from brave and manlike blows, 
And captive made her, first unhorsed. 




Hot were the spurs that sped the news 
Of that day's deed to Bedford's ear; 

And England's yeomen stretched theur thews, 
Freed from the cramping links of fear. 

As for won battles they rejoiced; 

Big bonfires pranced on flimsy piles, 
And high te Deums loud were voiced 

In crowded broad cathedral aisles. 


Becrowned and mitred princes fling 
To silent heaven quick joyful cries, — 

The joy of tigers ere they spring, 

While hells are leaping through their eyes. 

The Church's claim to interpret whole 
God's will, bred angry jealousies 

Towards Joan, thence concord with the soul 
Of England's aim and enmities. 

Priesthoods were then, as now, a school 
Of power and pride, and level ran 

With the strong world, serving to rule, 
Eule the chief test of every plan. 

Swayed too was England by a priest. 
There as elsewhere a sway accurst. 

Of public guidances the least 

Divine, and thence of all the worst. 

KOUEN. 87 

The true priest's function is to obey, 
And thus avouch, the voice that calls 

To pious self-renouncement: they 

Who rule, or long to rule, are false. 


England must prove the Maid a witch; 

Else on the crownino- of Kino; Charles 
Heaven's seal is set, in power so rich. 

Whether the lion leaps or snarls: 

Good Burgundy sues England's aid. 

Would trade his bales, would Brabant gain ; 

Lean recreant Anjou would be paid 
By Burgundy with fat Lorraine: 


The Duke de Ligny holds the Maid, 
For purchase, tightly prisoner : 

And Bishop Beauvais higher grade 

Would compass through bad Winchester, 

Around the Maid this web of lusts 
Was grossly spun with spider-speed, 

Not by short passion's fitful gusts, 
But the monsoon of gainful greed. 

England held all these hungry hounds 
In leash to her revenge and hate, 

She so through pride abased, her wounds 
She sought to heal with Joan's fate. 

ROUEN. 89 


Where was the King whom she had crowned? 

When those fell tidings struck his side, 
Did he not pale — then red rebound 

With heart of bridegroom for his bride? 

Did noons not lighten with the swords 
Outflashed to vows ten-myriad-tongued, 

And earth shake, trampled by the hordes 
That galloped to her tempest-lunged. 

Led on by France's chivalry. 

The Maid to save who all had saved. 

From wrong to wrest the greatest she 
Whom Fame on Story's front hath graved? 


That generous thought should draw but blanks ! 

Alas, were lofty baseness less ! 
In this wide scene of glow and thanks 

AU is a cold waste wilderness. 

Burrowing in trains of lust and pelf, 

The vauntfiil Frankish chivalry 
Was drunk with fulsome draughts of self; 

And for King Charles — sooner than he 

Would bum with nobleness, will howl 
Young kids. Among ignoblest things 

His then inaction sinks, as foul 

As aught on the foul page of kings. 

ROUEN, 91 


Could bolts imprison prayer and thought, 
And fence the fields of memory, 

A deadlier ravage had been wrought. 
And quenched an infinite hberty. 

As lightly black cyclopean walls 

Around her closed with sigh-strained bars, 
As on the earth Night's shadow falls 

That opens wide the world of stars. 

They could not bar the empyrean friends 
But they her bosom's brood would greet. 

And parley hold for saintly ends 

With thoughts unblushing, memories sweet. 


Of angel-guests the seemly mate, 
Within the ruthless grated stone 

She sat, in cloistered queenly state, 
Upon her high interior throne; 

Too high for self to climb, and wear 
And soil the steps, whence momently 

Blest messengers went forth, to bear 
Good-will and love to all that be. 

But still she had despondent cares, — 
Cares for Compiegne, whither she sent 

Her heart's whole crop with daily prayers. 
And would for that her bonds have rent. 

BOUEN. 93 


To England sold for kingly price, 

The Maid was dragged to Rouen's tower, 

To be there tortured in the vice 
Of lawless, godless, rageful power. 

A lonely dream of innocence, 

Lost in a- murderer's tangled brains, 

A ray whose fleeting flash indents 
The dark of snaky cavern's stains. 

Benighted lamb's lorn bleat, that stirs 
The blood of wolves in hungry den. 

Was Joan amid her purchasers, — 

High priests and chiefs and learned men. 


Lord Cardinal Wincliester, tlie Duke 
Of Bedford, Warwick's puissant Earl 

Were there, — lest Beauvais should be luke,- 
To bait, rack, butcher one poor girl. 

Their ruffians watched her when she slept, 
They hung big irons on her legs. 

Let none weep with her when she wept, — 
To drug her with Despair's dull dregs. 


Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, hisj^ 
A Frenchman's, was the tiger's paw 

To push .their inhumanities 

'Gainst duty, manhood, justice, law. 

ROUEN. 95 

He, Beauvais, and the Inquisitor's 

Pale vicar, sat sole judges, backt 
By lay and spiritual counsellors, — 

A court for death and murder packt. 

They forged gilt nooses for the mind. 
With crafty clasps equipt and springs, 

With these about her life to wind, — 
Keen, subtle, covert questionings. 

Though dim to her their worst intents, 
She snapped the slimy tortuous chains, 

With answers of wise innocence 
Confounding their insidious pains. 

They asked — "Does God the English hate?" — 
" Whom God doth hate or love, from me 

Is hid ; but this I know and state. 

Outdriven from France they all will be." 


— " That yoTi are in a state of grace 
Do you believe ? " — "If I am not, 

I pray God bring me so apace : 

If so, may I keep such blessed lot ! " 

One tongue there was, but one, so base 

To ask — " St. Michael, was he drest ? " — 

"Think you our Lord" — with childlike face — 
" Hath not wherewith to clothe his best ? " 

And more than once her plaintive tongue 
Chastised their shameless rank abuse 

Of judge's speech, which from her wrung — 
" Would you make me myself accuse ? " 

ROUEN. 97 

vn. . 

She smote them with her simple words ; 

And not at Orleans or Patay 
"Were stouter battles won with swords 

Than here with speech from day to day. 

And she had humbled haughtiest hearts, 
Had other Talbots captive ta'en, 

So edged with truth her worded darts, 
Her hoHness so whitely plain ; 

Had they not rallied from defeat 
On fresh reserves of malice, pride, 

And for each sophism that was beat 
Two marshalled that as deeply lied. — 


Then over the profound great face 

Of Mercy shadows swept, and she 
Reascending to her hallowed place 

To weep alone, all suddenly- 
New darkness rushed upon the soul 

Of that high crew, already dark, 
But now so beamless black there stole,— 

As from a devil-deHvered ark, — 

And crept into their pitchy breasts. 
Monsters that cannot live in day. 

Nor brook of sense or thought the tests, 
Who there had quenched all human ray, 

Had not been flushed that hideous night, — 
As on mad storm-clouds tender lie 

The promises of rainbow-light 

From sun that sinks and seems to die, — 

,?W J 

ROUEN. 99 

By radiance from the martyr-Maid, 
A glow by spirit-beauty nurst, 

With vestal fire so warmly rayed, 
It for a moment warmed the worst. 


Death wooed her from his halcyon heights, 

Sent inmates of his palaces 
To whisper of their chaste delights, — 

Veracious unbought embassies 

Of livers from beyond our sky, 

Large aifluent heirs of lavish Death, 

Whose presence teaches, that to die 
Is but to breathe a livelier breath. 



To win so great a guest, they broke 
Their law of silence on her ear, 

And in earth's accents plainly spoke 
Of sure deliverance glistening near. 

At first the senses pried for sound 
Of scaling squadrons, and a ring 

Of Frankish swords sad Rouen round, 
Her shackles loosened by the King. 

As noontide brilliance whets the eye, 
The light wherein her longings dwelt 

Gave them so fine a mastery. 
That soon a subtler hearing felt 

The upward pointing of the tones ; 

Then soared they on as blameless wings 
As waft the swarm of infant ones 

That daily up to heaven swings. 

ROUEN. 101 


But nether life entwineth roots 
So close about the seedfiil heart, 

That till fiill ripened fall the fruits 
A rending 't is for them to part. 

Young blood holds hidden in its streams 
The spawn of giant plans and wants : 

To spill it, wastes high germs and gleams, 
As when a murdered embryo pants. 

The soldier-Maiden knew no fear ; 

But life was young in her, and she 
Had many loves, and much was dear 

That held her earth-tied tenderly. 


And so, when to tlie sense were hushed 

Her angel-voices, on the stones, 
Where she lay cold and chained nncrushed. 

Would creep those loves to warm her moans. 

Domremy came, and from its spring 
Outgushed far childhood on her brain. 

And saddened there, pale wandering, 
Like moonlight on a desert main. 

Her mother's voice dropt in her ear, 

As chimes of first familiar bells 
The home-returning seaman cheer 

Through deathful Storm's insatiate swells. 

Swift as the viewless harnessed fire 
That speeds a thought o'er continents, 

Across her soul's homesick desire 
Ran strange, as through a magic lens, 

ROUEN. 103 

Her vast career to Rheims the proud 
From meek Domremy; nor with pride 

Was she upheaved, but humble bowed 

Before her greatness' rapid tide. [ 

And then, — as in a harp uphung 

A warm wind waketh tender tones, — 

A yearning for loved legions flung 

Sweet tremors through those stable stones. 

Then visions of new victories played 
Becrowned before a martial mood, 

And in bright prophecies arrayed ^ 
The grandeur of her solitude. — 

The agony of sleeping child 

Who starts, entoiled in serpent-coils. 

Was hers, — in vision's sea inisled, — 
Waking to chains, and the worse toils 


By tortive cunning wove with threads 
Of vengeance in that court, whose gloom 

Was ghasth'er than the maiden-dreads 
Of her rude dangerous prison-room. 

They could but kill, they could not tame 
Or conquer her, or wilt her bloom. 

Heaping upon her higher fame 

By that which doomed themselves, — her doom. 

The palsied air in Rouen's streets 
So scantly ftimished food for breath. 

The life that plies the pulse's heats 
Was chill with pallid hints of death. 

ROUEN. 105 

All joys, all griefs, all fears, all hopes, 

What dimmeth, what illumineth. 
The thought that mounts, the need that gropes, 

That day were shadowed all with Death. 

Men saw him in each other's eyes. 
And women felt him fill their own, 

And children hushed their playfiil cries, 
And let grave silence reign alone. 

He scowled below each shiny casque 
Of twice four hundred troopers grim. 

Who joyed in helping do his task. 

And on their heartstrings dandled him. 

Beyond, ten thousand gloating looks 
Watched him already, ere he came. 

Peering presentient through the nooks 
Of pitiless fagots piled for flame. — 


She comes — she comes — the Maid of Arc, 
From Orleans and from Rheims she comes 

Enwreathed, she whom freed France shall mark 
The highest who hath roused her drums : — 

She comes for holy sacrifice, 

To win her greatest victory, 
Warding, at costliest earthly price. 

Her soul's frill truth and purity : — 

She comes to die for France, and lift 
Man's thought forever to the height 

Of love's unselfishness, — a gift 

More precious than her conquering might. 

" O ! Rouen ! Must I die then here ! " 

Outmish of wonder and of awe : 
Can wrong its crest unsmitten rear — 

Hiss impious at His heaven of law ! 

BOUEN. 107 

She heaved a sigh — then wept and prayed ; 

Then calm and beautiful her face 
Grew strong serene, in power arrayed 

Of faith, and love's perfasive grace. 

Like light before whose coming part 

The waves of chaos' surly sea. 
She sat upon the felon-cart , 

Dragged through that lowering soldiery. 

Their hearts ran hate, wherein they snapped 
At what seemed her, — revenge's food : 

The lusting ones, they only lapt. 

Rage-blinded, their own being's blood. 

Man's life no fellow-man can reach. 

And hers l^ad been in heaven on earth, 

Held down by finest threads, whose breach 
Will be a moment's pang of birth ; — 


A pang, quick smothered by the smoke 
That suaged the bites of gnashing flame. 

Through whose red roaring, prayerful broke 
A voice that sounded Jesus' name. — 

Fresh loosened then a tender breath 
Came whispering to that sated hell ; 

And thence, where they had willed a death, 
Forgiveness with a blessing fell. 


AUU O lijji 



015 785 484 7